MARION COUNTY, FL – The Marion County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) with assistance from other local, state and federal agencies conducted a sting operation to identify and capture offenders seeking sex with children online. Each of these defendants made arrangements to meet and have sex with a girl or a boy in Marion County between the ages of 13-15 years old. Eight of these men traveled to a location in Marion County to have sex with the child they thought they had been messaging online. Instead, they were met by law enforcement, placed in handcuffs and arrested. In addition, four individuals were arrested for transmitting harmful material to who they believed were minors.
During the online interactions with the suspects, all of them engaged in lewd conversations with the “child” and described the sexual acts they wanted to perform with them. Some of these men also sent sexually explicit photographs to the undercover officers.
“I will always use all my resources to hunt these evil predators down and bring them to justice,” said Sheriff Billy Woods. “I will continue to do everything I can to keep this evil from our children.”
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The Marion County Sheriff’s Office would like to acknowledge and give their sincerest gratitude to the following agencies for their assistance during this operation: Ocala Police Department, Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Gainesville Police Department and Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office. The following community partners should also be recognized for their support during this operation: LaBella’s Italian Piatto & Pizzeria, Chemistry Salon, Sonny’s Barbeque, Pasta Faire, RP Dental, Publix, Walmart, and Raze Energy Drinks.